To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Martha Stewart Living magazine, I asked the members of the Martha Moments Facebook Group to submit their thoughts on how (and why) Martha's work has influenced and improved their lives. I got some wonderful responses, all of which are posted below. Thank you to everyone who took the time to write in with your thoughts!
I was first introduced to Martha Stewart through the American Express commercials showing her using old credit cards to create a mosaic at the bottom of a pool. It caught my attention and I thought, “What a woman!” Shortly after, I became engaged and was on my own to plan my wedding. I remember buying Martha Stewart Weddings and jumped in to plan what, all these long years later, is still described as one of the most beautiful AND fun weddings of all time by friends and family. I started reading Living and watching her on TV. In 1999, I had my first baby and again was guided by Martha to make everyday family life as special as possible. This included home cooked meals and special touches and soon every holiday became an event. I had two more children and they, too, grew up with Martha as a surrogate grandma who provided everyday inspiration to us. She helped make our lives more beautiful and more memorable. I had the pleasure to talk to her on the phone once during her radio show and she gave me expert rose keeping advice. I also attended a taping of one of her shows in 2004 and was chosen to ask a question from the audience. I am an avid gardener and chicken keeper because of Martha, and I continue to collect Martha Stewart Everyday and Martha By Mail products as well as Yellow Ware, Jadeite and Depression Glass. My gratitude for Martha Stewart, as a teacher and role model, is deep and abiding. I will carry her lessons with me for the rest of my days and those lessons will live on long after. I picture a future grandchild of mine teaching her own child how to make Alexis’s Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookie and making plans for the next great thing.
-Michelle Zabell, Vancouver, Washington
Martha has been one of the influential people who helped shape the person I’ve become today. She is creative, real and has always been a trusted brand in my household. The earliest memory of Martha is of growing up with my grandmother who raised me. She only subscribed to two magazines, one of which was Martha Stewart Living. I remember going through each page carefully and marking pages which drew my interest. I was around the age of twelve and was raised by a very crafty, creative and expressive family, so you can imagine the gears going around in my mind while diving into each page of Martha Stewart Living. My favorite thing was collecting the recipe cards, or just marking a page because the scene was so perfectly set. Then her show! I’d get home from school every evening and the first thing I would do was sit right in front of the TV which was already tuned to the Martha Stewart Show (My grandmother would watch this then Oprah). As soon as I could drive, it was off to Kmart for anything and everything Martha. My first ever purchase was a bedding set which I still have to this very day and a few Christmas ornaments. One thing I always tell my friends is that Martha would never put her name on anything she personally hasn’t approved, when it comes to her products.
When I turned 21, I booked my first trip alone to NYC to see the Martha Stewart Show. I was in one of America’s largest cities, alone, with the dream of seeing a show live in person that I had watched since I was younger. It was an amazing experience and it was because of her! She helped me branch out and live my life. When she stepped out on stage while I was sitting in the audience, I cried ... I CRIED!! Martha just has always been who I’ve looked up to and someone I have trusted. I may not know her personally but have always known she wouldn’t ever steer me wrong. She’s a strong leader and really has helped instill values. I have also met wonderful people and made so many friends thanks to her. She’s a hero for me and so many others.
I was in High School working at a bookstore when Martha released Entertaining. I studied that book from cover to cover. Until then, my interests were primarily in architecture and the decorative arts. After soaking in page after page of Martha's breathtaking photographs of food, lavish entertaining, the people, the environments I was changed. I began looking at design magazines differently, thinking about how people lived in their homes, how they entertained, what dinnerware would work in their dining rooms etc. This guided how I saw my homes and ultimately my career. Martha's influence on my company was instrumental. We approached everything we designed as if it were for a single home from furniture, dinnerware, textiles, lighting and we showcased it together how someone would live with it not in departments, this was ground-breaking. I am grateful for all Martha has taught me over the years and look to forward learning more. Cheers to 30 years of inspiration!
Growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, I learned at an early age, to make do with what you had. That meant growing your own food, canning food items to use all year long, always making things from scratch, and celebrating events with friends and family either at our house or someone else's. When I moved from the rural life to the city after becoming a nurse, I often felt out of place with all those skills I had developed and my idea of what I thought, was a fun time. It was in 1992, when I bought my house at the age of 27, that I was introduced to the Martha way of life. I was going to be painting the interior of my newly purchased home & a co-worker gave me a copy of Martha's magazine, Living. It was an issue focused on painting one’s home. That issue was just the beginning!! To me, it seemed that Martha made it "ok" to do all those things I grew up learning & enjoying. I quickly subscribed to the magazine, I began recording on my VCR any time Martha was on TV in an interview, or hosting her own show, etc. If Martha was on, i was recording it! And when Martha's products at Kmart came to be, I was like a kid let loose inside a candy store! I would spend hours walking the Martha isles. The displays, the large photos of products in use, often with Martha, was, well, comforting and fun at the same time. Over time, my skills became fine tuned, just like Martha's. I accumulate treasures to display as well as use in my daily life. I host parties that people hope to get invited to. I host canning events that I refer to as extravaganzas, where people can not only come to learn the fine art of preserving but take home jars upon jars of goodness to enjoy all year! I still live in that same house where I was when I found Martha. There is not one square inch of my small corner city lot that has not been influenced by Martha, inside or out. Its nothing glamorous or huge, but it definitely shows the influence Martha has had on me and my way of life, and I'm not embarrassed to admit it.
-Dennis Landon, Wisconsin
I became intrigued by Martha when I discovered her line of products at Kmart when I was outfitting my first apartment. From there, I became a magazine subscriber and watched her television program whenever I could catch it on broadcast television. I am proud to have a collection of almost all her books — 90! Like then, I am still fascinated with the idea of celebrating everyday living. I have learned so many valuable lessons in entertaining, home design and cooking from Martha over the years. I consider the Martha the original influencer — the ultimate glossary of good things. Cheers to 30 years of very good things!
Martha has been an inspiration to me for several decades. She is the one trusted source for ideas on how to make our lives better, more enjoyable and infinitely beautiful. Whenever I set a table, cook a meal, decorate a cookie, bake a cake or shop for collectibles, Martha's touch is always there. That a teacher can imbue the tenets of fine living for millions of us year after year, is a testament to her far-reaching influence. No one in our lifetime or for generations to come will come close to what Martha has created.
-David Pantoja (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) @goodthingsbydavid
I've been a fan of Living for many years. However, when I purchased my first home in 2004, I found myself turning to her for everything from interior paint to potted plants. What I enjoy most are Martha’s tips for entertaining. I love throwing cocktail parties. I find them a little easier to put together than sit down dinners. Cheers to 30 years of Martha Stewart Living!
-James Richmond, California
James's famous charcuterie spread is inspired by Martha.
Honestly, I could not have made it through my adulthood without Martha’s tips, tricks, recipes and decorating advice. Her style is impeccable and not hard to emulate- it’s a good thing! Martha Stewart Living is a bible on how to live - living your best life long before Oprah arrived on the scene. I own every single book and my magazine collection dates back to 1992. I made every single recipe in the Easter 1996 magazine and somehow the issue was lost. I frantically ordered a couple back issues with death warnings written on them in the event they got “tossed” again. I’m still using those recipes. I own so many of her products from Martha By Mail, as well as K-Mart domestics and Christmas items.
I remember seeing an article in the local newspaper about Martha Stewart’s growing popularity - especially with flower arrangements for festive occasions. Then one day I wandered into my favorite bookstore and came upon the first issue of Living, and that was it - I was hooked. To me, Martha’s way of doing things was so unique and just totally ... right. Truthfully, I had no idea how to properly clean some things, fold a fitted sheet, and on and on. And the collecting! Drabware, yellow ware, jadeite. She taught me that it was totally okay to love these things.
It was 1977, and I was beginning anew. A divorce that allowed my three little children and I a fresh and safe start, was aided by Martha and her love of making home and life beautiful. That was rare in those times of liberated career women mindsets. I was grateful for her TV show, books and magazines that allowed me to research and discover my true self interests, develop hidden talents and encourage 3 little ones to do the same. As a family, we worked through a difficult time via her expressions of encouraging creativity.
Martha is all about living your own life to its fullest, celebrating each day, and always being ready and willing to learn. Also, if you're going to do something, don't half-ass it; always do your best whatever the task is. I raised my daughter on these principles, which Martha taught me.
-Judith A. Saldana-Schick
Making everyone feel warm & welcome in my home has always been at the base of what I am about. I learned this in part from my Grandmother Maggie and it was enhanced to a new level by Martha Stewart. Over the last several decades it has been mentioned more than once “ Paul…..thats so Martha!” Or “Martha would be so proud?” I take total satisfaction in that. Martha embodies not only making your surroundings pleasing to all senses but makes you strive to be your best possible self and as of late with a dry wit and wicked sense of humor. I love watching how Martha has evolved since she was first introduced to us in the 1980’s to the Martha we see today, a little more relaxed and less focused on perfection without losing sight of what is best. I thank Martha for becoming the measure for what it is to be your very own Good Thing.
When people ask me, “Who was your favorite teacher?” I immediately say, “Martha Stewart!” She’s taught us all many ‘Good Things’ through her magazine, books, and various platforms of media. I’m so grateful for her, and the talented team at MSLO for all the years of consistent, inspirational content. If you didn’t learn something new every day, you weren’t paying attention.
-Brian Utz, Texas
I picked up my first copy of Martha Stewart Living when I was a young, international college student living in the US for the first time. The magazine, her voice and the beautiful images became my inspiration for the American Dream. I have been a loyal reader now for 20 years. From the very first project making a clove-studded orange to decorate my dorm room to now cooking her more elaborate recipes - Her can do spirit has permeated through all aspect of my life as I navigate adulthood.
Martha Stewart has been a part of my life since far before I was born. My mother and her father bonded over her magazines, books, and shows and by the time I was born, we had found Martha’s exquisite influence into our home, holidays, and ways of doing everyday things. I can remember when I was about six years old, I had begun to take an interest in holidays, crafts, and cooking. Any time I was looking for inspiration or needed a recipe, I knew the best place to do so would be in my mom’s treasured Martha Stewart Living magazines, and once I was able to use the TV on my own, I would record her shows (especially the holiday ones!). Throughout my upbringing, Martha has been a big part of how my mom and I bond, we re-watch her shows together daily and will walk around the house and garden talking about how we can apply what we just saw in Martha’s new show or latest magazine. I am now 18 years old, and just finished my first semester of undergrad. Every chapter of my life thus far has needed a bit of Martha, from my childhood holidays, to the planning of my Sweet Sixteen, all the way to the designing of my freshman year residence (the exterior painted Bedford Gray, of course!), Martha has found a place, and she will forevermore.
Martha inspired me with the gardening issue of 1992. I was only 26 years old. The story of preserving tomatoes got me thinking more about my garden tomatoes. I mean my tomatoes were favored among my neighbor friends, but Martha took me to a new level. For example, now I grow heirloom, plum, and cherry tomatoes. Each variety has its particular purpose in cooking my dishes Tarts, sauces, or juices bring to my table different taste and textures. Later on, my greenhouse was constructed and now I grow tomatoes during the winter months, being in Arkansas our winters are mild. Just from the 1992 issue, my interest to details and a lifestyle of being surrounded by "good things" has expanded into flowers, evergreens, cooking, and an eye for color. MSL, please stay focused on your goals, new products, and new ideas for many years to come. Just think, it started for me growing one tomato plant in my garden. Now, I'm hooked on Living.
-Todd Hall, avid gardener
I started following Martha when I was a young woman just setting up housekeeping. She taught me there was a better way to do things, that you could also do everyday things with style. Her Weddings book was huge for me, it gave me so many ideas for my own wedding. My wedding cake was modeled after one of hers, and so was my bouquet! I had numerous friends ask to borrow the book, so I started asking them to write a note in it before they returned it. It is still one of my most treasured possessions!
I first started watching Martha on television when I was in high school. I loved watching her take a holiday, or even an everyday chore or meal, and not only make it extra special, but somehow also give me confidence to tackle it myself! As a young gay man, I was struggling with my own identity. Confidence didn’t always come easily, so I treasured the confidence Martha gave me. As I went away to college, and began life on my own, I started to realize how much I enjoy cooking and entertaining. It was great putting into practice many of the lessons I had learned, while at the same time developing my own style. Being young and starting out, thrift shop and tag sale finds could be transformed into charming settings to make lasting memories. If Martha could turn tag sale treasures into elegant events, so could I! As I’ve grown older, I treasure some of those early finds, and continue to build collections of new and old. It has grown into a passion of mine, and I still apply lessons Martha taught, like making sure my collections are useful, as well as beautiful. I love how Martha has expanded over the years with new shows and publications, but I continue to regularly watch those original episodes of Martha that first inspired me. Between new and old, I’m still finding tools and inspiration to incorporate into my everyday to keep life interesting and beautiful.
-Tim Obert, Salem, Massachusetts
The time I first saw Martha on the Oprah Show and the audience was going wild over her. I started to buy her products and tried to se her every chance I could on TV. I was not a shopper of Kmart but became one fast, I found her products from Kmart were of good quality, different and long lasting. I purchased her linens, towels, dishes, cookware, patio and garden and Christmas items. I was so happy when she put her products in Macy’s Department store (my favorite store.) I bought her books also went to one book signing and go to meet her which I have written a page and half about that experience for my grandkids so they can read it one day. I think she is an amazing person, honest and up front, an excellent teacher and a person that loves life and all it has to offer. She appreciates what life has given her and takes good care of it. I love that she enjoys her life and travels and shares her travels with her family including nieces and nephews. I think she should go down in history as one of the most giving and caring people - a good Humanitarian.
I first encountered Martha late one night on TV after returning from practice rooms while majoring in music at university. It was close to the holidays and Martha was preparing for Christmas on her television show. Being far from home and family, her show became a source of comfort and inspiration to me. Next thing I knew I was buying her magazines and soon after I became a subscriber (uninterrupted since 1996). Years later I have made many close friends and connections because of my interest in Martha, meeting up with others who appreciate her as much as I do. So, for me she has been a beacon of good living in our crazy world.
-Bernie Wong, Wisconsin
I don't even know where to begin to express what Martha has brought to my life, starting with the Entertaining book. Besides learning the obvious things, like sewing, baking, decorating, gardening, even rewiring a lamp, I've also developed an appreciation for craftsmanship, elegance and quality. Martha's shows, magazines and books were something my mom and I could appreciate together, and even though my mom is gone, I still think of her when I try something new that has been inspired by Martha. We would always ask ourselves, "What would Martha do?" or "Wouldn't Martha love this?" Thank you, Martha Stewart Living, for the 30 years of inspiration, learning and joy that you have brought to my life.
-Christine Magnuson, Gresham, Oregon
When Martha first published Martha Stewart Living as a quarterly in 1990, I was working as an assistant art director at Cooking Light magazine in Birmingham, Alabama. Both magazines were published under the Time Inc. umbrella. Because of this, we all got free issues of MSL. I remember all the creative people at Cooking Light being completely inspired by MSL and I couldn't wait for each issue. So, the pages of both magazines were a cross-pollination of how magazines, in the headiest days of publishing, should be done. The emphasis was on making all of our photography beautiful and richly creative. Years later, when I moved to Atlanta and was working as a public health designer at CDC, I finally made my holiday tree book come to life. Still a big Marthaphile, I went to a book signing Martha held at the Georgia Aquarium. I gave her a mockup of the book I wanted to publish. All I really got from that was a photo of her looking at my book with the "Oh!" expression on her face. But when the book became a self-published reality, I was proud to know that the cross-pollination of beauty in a publication still lived in my personal creative endeavors. My book, "The Decorated Tree" is still the purest expression of my particular creative talents - inspired fully by the Martha Stewart aesthetic, which has become so lauded. It was Martha's intent from the beginning to elevate the domestic side of living into an artform. Our lives have become much richer because of that singular vision. My book is sold at Blurb. I also designed the tree on the cover (an heirloom Alpine feather tree) and it is hand crafted by Dennis Bauer and sold right next to Martha's feather trees at Home Traditions.
-Darryl Moland, Atlanta
Here is Darryl presenting his book The Decorated Tree to Martha on February 10th, 2009